The Idaho Poison Center is getting ready for summer, which is the busiest time of year for the hotline. Bleach (especially if it’s been rainy, and mold and mildew is growing), bug bites and stings, insect repellent, hydrocarbons and food safety are some of the most common topics for calls the center receives at this time of year.
Nurses at the Idaho Poison Center are available to help 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Program the center’s number, 1-800-222-1222, into your cellphone so you have it handy no matter where you are.
Here are some general tips that may save you a trip to the emergency room this summer:
- Household bleach has many uses around the house, but it can cause problems if it gets in the eyes or is swallowed. Bleach should never be used with other cleaning products. When it comes in contact with other cleaners that contain acids or ammonia, a dangerous gas can form and cause serious breathing problems. Keep it stored out of the reach of children.
- Insect bites and stings: Bees, wasps and other stinging insects are out in force in the warmer summer months. If you are stung, call the poison center. Watching for an allergic reaction is important, especially in the first hour after a sting.
- Insect repellents that contain DEET should be applied sparingly to exposed skin and clothing. Lower concentrations of less than 10 percent have been found to be just as effective as higher concentrations. Keep the bug spray out of reach of children, or stored safely out of their reach on camping and other outdoors trips.
- Hydrocarbons found in gasoline, kerosene, lighter fluids and torch fuels are among the top 10 causes of childhood poisoning deaths in the United States. Make sure to store these items out of reach of children after you use them.
- Food safety is especially difficult when the temperatures rise. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. All meats should be fully cooked to be sure bacteria are destroyed. Meats should be cooked to 160 degrees, as measured on a food thermometer. It’s not possible to tell if meat is fully cooked by looking at it.